Vacations that heal

Summertime. Vacation time. Rest and relaxation? Sometimes.

I had the best vacation last August! It was short, budget and all, but it was so energizing and relaxing and healing, that I was just floating when I came back.  Little things didn’t bother me, I had energy, yet I slept well. I came back ready to face the things I had been avoiding and take action. I realized that I was more mindful. No multi-tasking, but one thing at a time, with my full energy and concentration. Amazing how much more I got done!

So what did I do? I went to the Newport Jazz Festival for the first time. OMG!  The music was amazing! I haven’t seen many superstars live, but on the stage were Dave Brubeck with Wynton Marsales; Herbie Hancock and Amal Jamar. I am totally enchanted with Jamie Cullum and Amina Figerova’s music spoke to me, I felt it in my body.

I was with a great friend, and got to meet two wonderful women I had only heard about for many years. I felt like I knew them, and meeting them face to face was so easy and natural, like we had been talking every day for years. I met some new folks too, and can’t wait to see them next year. Oh, wait, the magic of the internet will connect us, and we are in close enough proximity to keep the energy going with some visits in between.

I know I was stuck, I could feel it in my body before my vacation. After I got back, I made commitments and followed through on some nutritional changes, took care of the yearly medical appointments, cleared out some clutter, and noticed how differently my mind felt when my body felt better and vise-versa.

It reminded me and continues to remind me that balance is so important to creating a life worth living. Balance between work and play, making time for self-care, eating well, sleeping well, time with friends and time alone to create, renew and rejuvenate.

What kind of activities do you like?  What kind of vacations or get-aways are in your budget, and leave you refreshed when you get home.

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Time to calm down

And enjoy! It was a lovely day today, started a little chilly, but warmed beautifully as the day progressed. I live in NJ, and things have been more than a little damp here. Of course I forgot about that when I flew off to the office today, and had to detour around my usual route, which floods readily and easily. On a hot summer day, the water, well, swamp I guess, is on both sides of that road, and the water is always nearly at the road anyhow, so it doesn’t take too much rain to allow it to flow over the road.  More rain leaves it impassable to cars. 

Then there’s the cresting rivers a few days after the rain, which leaves some roads that had been passable suddenly closed.  My office is surprisingly close to a river, I believe a part of the Passaic (note to self to check on that one).  Today, the road was open, but I wonder if it will still be by Saturday. Two rains ago, the flooding was worse after the rain stopped; hence my quick education on cresting rivers. You’d think I’d have known that by now; oh well.

Although my home was not in an area that was under water, it is built into a hill. The ground became so saturated over the past few weeks, that some water did seep into the basement. I felt very grateful that I could manage it with towels, lots of towels, a mop and 2 dehumidifiers.  It was more like a huge puddle, and didn’t flow onto anything that wasn’t safely living in plastic tubs already.

This is, of course, to the hypnotherapist, a wonderful bounty of metaphor opportunities.  Emotions, especially anger, can just keep building up, hiding underground so that you don’t see them, don’t realize they are there until they leak in, eventually even flooding in.  Self-care is so important at these times.  Addiction treatment talks about HALT, being hungry, angry, lonely and tired as a trigger to relapse. That is so true, and being mindful helps one take the actions when they recognize any or all of these symptoms. The actions of talking to others; meditation; nutrition and watching caffeine and sugar intake; taking your medication if indicated; exercise or yoga are only a few of the options.

What if, however, you haven’t recognized the anger yet? Your ground is saturated, but you don’t see/feel it yet.  Do you need to wait until it leaks in? Floods over your road? Do you need to wait until you become angry, rageful, hopeless, self-destructive?  Absolutely not!  As you learn to live mindfully, some other thoughts may begin to occur to you; you notice what is going on around you. You notice your emotional rain, from the very first drop. You remember that the ground, your ground, can only hold so much before it becomes saturated. You remember that the rivers get full, flood even, then a few days later, when it seems they should be receding, they crest and may flood again.  Unlike the weather, we can intervene when we feel the first emotional drops of rain. We can prevent the ground from getting oversaturated, the river from cresting.  Or, we can wait with an armload of towels and a head full of every alternate route to get where we want to go.  How will you choose to live your life?

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accomplishments

Whew, what a great day!  I got a lot accomplished, some of which I wasn’t expecting to have time to do. It helped balance out the unexpected changes in the day’s schedule.

Although I don’t consider myself a teacher, in many ways it seems to come naturally to me. I am used to the role of therapist/teacher/counselor/coach on a small scale, usually 1 to 1. I haven’t been working with groups often since I stopped working in intensive outpatient programs, which I miss very much.  (grist for later posts on the groups and seminars coming in January 2010 at my office and via teleseminar). Anyhow, I taught a technique to the members of one of my weaving guilds, and we all had a grand time. After I got over my dry mouth and forgetting my great ice-breaker jokes and fabulous self-introduction, I found my rhythm and totally forgot that I was nervous.  Should have done my self-hypnosis before rather than after the anxiety bit, but it worked itself out.

I have to do that again sometimes, the teaching. Yes, and the self-hypnosis. It is nice to have the hypnotherapist guild you through a healing trance, but it is also very empowering to elicit change in yourself.  The self-hypnosis in between the sessions with the hypnotherapist really support the continued change and growth, especially with issues like anxiety, weight management and smoking cessation.

So riding on the high from the workshop (yes, for you addicts reading this, there are things you can do to have a good time without drinking and drugging!), I came home and set a few goals to make the best use of that cheerful, positive energy. My poor old Yorkie isn’t so happy with that; the old guy is almost 16, suffering from chronic kidney disease and is mostly blind. He may be going deaf also, but it is hard to know if it selective or real….he’s always been pretty independent and commands like “come” and “stop” have never meant much to him. I’ve been promising him a bath for a few weeks, and finally got him in the tub today. I feel wonderful that I accomplished that; he’s still wrapped in a towel and blanket, shivering and looking at me with a glare somewhere between pity and loathing. But he smells good and he’s nice and clean, and he’s really going to be in an uproar when I get the nail clippers out in a few minutes. Good, check another thing off the list!

Some cooking is on the agenda for tonight also. One of the biggest helps in creating a healthy body and weight is avoiding processed foods with additives, lots of salt and sugar in their many disguised forms, and “bad” fats. Just by cooking my whole grains and veggies myself, I can avoid those additives. I can add in good fats, like avocados and olive oil. I can also cook ahead for a few days, and prepare a few meals myself to keep in the fridge. We all like convenience, and the time I spend cooking and making more than one meal at a time gives me the convenience of reaching into the fridge without the consequence of processed foods.

I must also mention that I cook for the Yorkie. I read the label on the prescription dog food that is recommended, and shivered. Yuk! So I did some research, and came up with natural diet recommendations for canine kidney disease. So I cook for all of us at once. I can cook 2 batches of yummy beef /rice and sweet potato/egg/veggies for him and it lasts a week.  And except for the beef  or chicken and raw eggs, we pretty much eat the same thing. I won’t digress today on why our pets seem to be developing illnesses like obesity, kidney disease and cancer. Yes, environment and genetics are  factors for animals as well as people, but we can certainly impact our health and the health of our pets by what we feed all of us.

To end the day, a little zen knitting. Ahhhhhhhh!

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starting over

Ack! Didn’t do so well with my last goal. However, a do-over is OK, and I start again, blogging daily.  

I stopped at my local all service printing/mailing center to drop off some packages.  While  chatting with the ower,  he mentioned that he and his wife were heading for their 45th anniversary.  On further thought, he mentioned that they had been dating for 3 years before they got married. He smiled and said “she was 16….she was hot.”  Then his smile broadened just a bit and he said she was still hot. Wow!   Maybe I should go back and find out what the secret is.

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As the season changes, the days get shorter and the weather cools. Well, got downright cold in NJ last week, cold enough to snow where I live.  It’s a good time to remember to take care of yourself.  Get enough sleep. Dress for the weather. Eat well. Of course, this one is a subject of debate.

There are some basics to think about that can have an impact of your health and more.

~ Buy locally when you can, organic if possible. This supports local farmers and economy and uses less resources.  Fresh from the farmer, at the farm or farmers markets really does taste different from fresh in the supermarket. 

~Eat seasonally. There is a rich fall bounty, and many of the foods are warming to warm you from the inside. Cooler weather brings to mind yummy soups and rich stews.

~Eat less meat and more vegetables.

~Whole grains are the “good” carbs. Not sure what whole grains are?  Ask a holistic nutritionist or someone who eats them.  My friend Kathy is a great resource: http://www.backtobasicwellness.com/

~Add probiotics to your diet. You can get these in supplements, but also in foods like yogurt, kefir and kombucha.  You can find kefir, a fermented daily drink in some grocery stores and in health food stores. Kombucha, a fermented tea drink, can also be found in health food stores, and a friend found it also in her local asian market.

When we feel better physically, we feel better emotionally. When we feel better emotionally, we feel better physically.

To your health!

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Why our health matters

I heard part on an interview with Dr. Andrew Weil today.   He has a new book, “Why Our Health Matters” and I am very much looking forward to reading it.  It’s been a while since I read any of his books, but I often see his articles and read them with interest.

Dr. Weil talked with Diane Rehm about his opinions about health care reform,  insurance, and most importantly, about learning to prevent disease.  I really liked that approach.  Making lifestyle changes does not insure we will never get sick, but can reduce the risks of many illnesses and diseases.

Just changing how we eat can make a big difference in our health. I am not a nutritionist, but I do know that if I eat certain foods,  I just don’t feel right. The better I eat, the better I feel.  I’ll bet you have had similar experiences. Dramatic and drastic changes in how we eat are not always easy, but there are simple and gradual changes that can have a signficant impact over time.  One suggestion is to avoid as much processed and fast food as possible. This is sometimes a challenge in our busy lifestyles, but can provide big rewards.

Think about taking a cooking class if you aren’t sure how to cook from “scratch”; it is often easier than you think, and you can learn shortcuts like preparing ahead so you always have better, healthy choices for meals and snacks.

Although I missed part of the show, I didn’t hear any mention of mental health, and it’s impact on our overall health.  From my chair, I see significant changes in overall health as clients learn to reduce stress, become mindful and develop a positive outlook . I’m not talking about faking happiness, but really learning to be happy, and accept to good and the bad with grace.

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